José H. Fischel de Andrade | Refugee Survey Quarterly
This article revisits some aspects of the emergence and relevance of the 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees. After addressing the conceptual framework by proposing a definition of asylum regime and explaining which asylum sub-regimes exist at the regional level in Latin America, the article reviews the ideological nature of the historical set of facts that led to the adoption of the 1984 Cartagena Declaration. It then explains why was there a need for a change of regime in Central America, details both the drafting process that culminated in the 1984 Cartagena Declaration refugee definition and UNHCR’s role in it, and undertakes a critical analysis of the potential relevance of the Cartagena Declaration. The article’s general conclusion is that the 1984 Cartagena Declaration’s practical, political, and legal relevance is obsolescent and that its legacy is most likely to be found both in the broad refugee definitions that are captured in most of the region’s domestic legislations, and in the advocacy model which uses ad hoc and sui generis UNHCR-led events to advance conceptual frameworks for refugee protection policy.